It’s reached the stage at which I’ll hear some straight, white, cisgender guy tell me he’s “a feminist” and my bullshit detector will go off like a fire alarm.
I’ll admit this is a prejudiced opinion, but hear me out: Haven’t you encountered your fair share of so-called “good guys” (who claim to support sex positivity, feminism and other liberal issues) who later reveal themselves to be creepy douchebags of the highest order (le Order de la Merit du Sac Douche, if you’re interested.)
Let me give you an example: Kyle Payne.
This guy was a prolific activist who claimed to be creating “a more life-affirming culture of sexuality” for women. He wrote papers attacking pornography, was an advocate for victims of sexual violence and a self-proclaimed “feminist.”
Which was all well and good — until we learned how he’d been arrested for assaulting a student at Buena Vista University (he later plead guilty to secretly photographing and filming the student’s breasts).
It’s a chilling example of just how insincere and hypocritical a so-called “feminist” man turned out to be — but not unique.
Lets look at another “friend” to the sex positive community: 58-year-old Bill Graber. He claimed to be an advocate of equal rights for gays and lesbians — yet his “contribution” to sex positivity was a popular blog advocating LGBT rights under the assumed identity of a D.C. based lesbian called Paula Brooks.
His blog, Lez Get Real, won much support — which made it even more of a betrayal when it the whole thing was revealed to be a lie from beginning to end.
Even more outrageous was that this came to light through interactions he’d had with fellow lesbian blogger Amina Arraf, the so-called Gay Girl in Damascus. It had been revealed just days earlier that Syrian blogger Amina was actually a 40-year-old white, heterosexual American called Tom MacMaster (hilarious if it wasn’t quite so creepy!).
While we’re on the subject, I would be remiss not to mention another fake female blogger: Alexa Di Carlo. Her wildly popular blog, outlining adventures as a San Francisco sex worker, won the admiration of many — including those who’d communicated with “Alexa” directly.
Once again, that made it even more painful when “she” was revealed to be a guy — a frequent patron of escorts who’d been using his Alexa identity to “verify” himself with sex workers who’d trusted his fictional alter-ego.
And sadly the creepiness of self-proclaimed “liberal” men is only amplified the more famous they get. There are two celebrity white, straight, cisgender males in particular who send a shiver down my spine whenever they align themselves with liberal, sex-positive or feminist issues.
The first is Julian Assange — the face behind the Wikileaks website.
For all of Assange’s liberal pretensions, he’s creepy to the power of ten. When rape allegations were made against him, there was no doubt they were politically motivated — but the allegations, are truly disturbing.
According to the report of one alleged assault, Assange told a consenting partner that he’d wear a condom, then didn’t. Later, she awoke to find him having sex with her (obviously unable to consent) and when asked if he was “wearing anything,” i.e. a condom, he responded, “Yes. You.”
Isn’t that, like, the creepiest thing you’ve ever heard?
At the time, I blogged about whether or not this could be classified as “rape.” Ultimately, I had a hard time convincing myself that it couldn’t.
The irony is that Wikileaks is now broke — so to raise funds, they’re auctioning off a “date” with Julian Assange. It led to me overhearing a slightly sketchy quip, “if they pay extra, he’ll even wear a condom when he rapes them!”
And that kind of comedy brought me to my final supposedly-liberal, supposedly-feminist, actually-creepy white, straight, cisgender male — Bill Maher.
When I first moved to America, I thought Bill Maher was amazing. Then I started watching his show — and the thin veneer of liberal integrity he hid behind quickly evaporated. The first time I started to think he was creepy was in 2009, when he was talking about Tila Tequila getting choked by a boyfriend.
“Stop acting surprised someone choked Tila Tequila,” Bill scoffed. “The surprise is nobody choked this bitch sooner!”
You know what? I’m not much of a fan of Tila Tequila — but I didn’t find that funny. Especially not since he said it with a truly creepy enthusiasm.
The next time my creep-o-meter went off with Bill Maher was back in 2010, after President Obama finally got his health reform passed. Bill joked about how Democrats should treat Republicans the same way Tiger Wood sexted he’d treat his girlfriend:
“Tell them, ‘Shut the fuck up while I slap your face for making noise — now pass a cap-and-trade law, you stupid bitch, and repeat after me: global warming is real!’”
Transcribing the rape metaphor doesn’t do it justice — you needed to watch the relish in Maher’s face when he delivered these lines to truly catch the creepiness.
His eyes widened when he sneered: “I want to hold you down and choke you while I fuck that ass that I own.” His neck bulged when he said he wanted to see Republicans “squeal like a pig!”
Finally, we caught a glimpse of the “real” Bill Maher – one who wasn’t such a progressive guy after all.
Which is why I understand how white, straight, cisgender guys are often viewed with suspicion, if not outright hostility. Once bitten, twice shy — and “good guys” in the sex positive community have turned out to be epic creeps more than once.
This is why I’ve tried to step around being labeled “sex-positive” or “feminist” — because I don’t want to be labeled a hypocrite for sharing one of my inevitably outspoken opinions with somebody who feels my opinion is contrary to either principle.
In fact, principles are at the core of this issue.
If you look at the “good guys” turned bad, you’ll notice that ‘principles’ were what attracted them to the sex positive community in the first place, not people (or so they claimed).
All the “good” guys I’ve met within the sex-positive community have been brought to it as friends, lovers and acquaintances of sex-positive activists — not advocates in their own right.
Perhaps that’s why they exemplify tolerance, moderation and respect — because it’s people they care about, not arbitrary ideals and principles.
It reminds me, in fact, of something Ian Fleming wrote in the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale:
“Surround yourself with people. People are so much easier to fight for than principles.”
Easier to fight for, yes — and also, so much more difficult to betray.